How Do Drug Tests Affect Workers Comp Claims?

Workers' Comp Drug Tests in California

Many workers are subjected to periodic drug testing as well as drug tests after an employee has sustained a work injury. These tests are typically performed to ensure you were not inebriated or under the influence of a narcotic before the accident. Drug testing may be requested immediately after a workplace accident or during the treatment process for a work-related injury.

How Long Do Employers Have to Request a Drug Test?

It is typically in an employer's best interest to conduct a drug test as soon as possible after an accident. The longer an employer waits, the less accurate the results will be as different substances have different windows of detection. Generally speaking, the post-accident drug test time limit is 12 hours after an accident occurs.

What to Know Before Submitting to a Drug Test

Before you take a drug test, you should ensure the clinic offering the test is not an occupational medicine clinic, such as Concentra. Concentra has been accused of conspiring with employers such as Walmart to limit the care of their injured workers. Other occupational doctors might change the diagnosis of an injury from “work-related” to “non-work related” with no medical evidence to justify the change. If your employer tries to steer you to an occupational medicine clinic, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.

What Happens if I Fail a Workers' Comp Drug Test?

Failing a drug test doesn’t automatically disqualify you from workers’ compensation benefits. You may test positive for drugs and still recover workers' compensation benefits as long as you weren’t intoxicated at the time of the accident.

In order to disqualify an employee from claiming benefits, an employer must show:

  • You were intoxicated at the time of your accident
  • The drugs and/or alcohol in your system were the primary cause of your accident

This burden of proof isn’t easy, but it is possible. However, failing a drug test could also delay payments of lost-time benefits and limit your permanent benefits if your employer can argue that by failing your drug test, they were prevented from accommodating any work injuries you have or might have had.

Marijuana and Workers' Compensation Claims

Despite being decriminalized in California, marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law. As such, testing positive for marijuana after a workplace accident could still jeopardize a person's employment status and workers' compensation claim. While testing positively for marijuana after a workplace accident does not automatically disqualify you from collecting workers' compensation benefits, it will expose your claim to additional scrutiny and give your employer the opportunity to assert that your accident was caused by marijuana intoxication.

If you’re having trouble getting your benefits after a work injury, let our Santa Ana workman's comp attorneys help. Ufkes & Bright is a firm with more than 50 years of combined experience to offer your case. Let us discuss your situation with you in a free case consultation.

Get started on your case by calling us at (714) 909-2609 or filling out our online form today.

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